The grape hull dump cake is made with scuppernongs right off the grape vine fresh from our family vines. This naturally sweet dessert is a crowd-pleaser.
I grew up in the deep south….out in the country. We didn’t go to “town” every day because back then a 7 mile jaunt to town was only made when needed. That was fine with me because I had more than enough to do in the picturesque countryside where I lived.
Since my father was a farmer we lived the simple life typical of country dwellers. We had family pets, rode horses, biked the neighborhood, and worked in the garden. We fished in our pond, hoed weeds in the yard, and attended church at the “little white church up the road”.
I remember at some point my dad became interested in growing his own grapes. He did his research with the County Extension Office, then purchased and planted Muscadine grapes or as he called them Scuppernongs. Both are funny sounding names and aren’t the same species as the grapes sold at the grocery store.
What’s a scuppernong?
While all scuppernongs are muscadines, not all muscadines are scuppernongs. The primary difference between the two lies in their relationship to each other; one is a cultivar of the other. Compared to other grape species, muscadines individually ripen in loose bunches and are hardy plants that can yield many pounds of grapes…if the deer don’t eat them first.
I remember Dad trying many methods to deter the deer from their nightly foraging. He was mostly successful…certainly enough for us to have more than we could eat!
The two basic colors of the grapes are black or purple and white or bronze. We have both the large and small varieties of both the bronze and purple grapes. At one point in the past all bronze grapes were referred to as scuppernongs.
Although that isn’t technically accurate, our family just started using the term for both the bronze and purple grapes, and we still call both kinds scuppernongs today.
The bronze seem to have a slightly sweeter taste, but my choice is the purple grapes. Both are delicious so it comes down to your taste buds and what you desire.
Almost every year we had (and still have) a bumper crop of grapes. We drove up and down the vines enjoying their juiciness, and when we couldn’t eat them all; we would make juice, jelly, and pie. My mother started making the “grape hull pie”, and everyone loved it. I am not sure how she arrived at her original recipe, but over time it has been modified and tweaked to the current recipe.
Grape Hull Pie, Cobbler, or Dump Cake???
This dessert isn’t really a pie although my mom would would call it a pie-probably because it took less time to say. It has a topping and no bottom crust so it falls more into the cobbler or dump cake family. Either way, it is simply delicious.
What types of grapes do you use?
For this recipe I used both the large and small bronze and purple grapes. They have slightly different tastes in terms of sweetness but mixed together make a beautiful bouquet of sweet juiciness. You could easily use one particular kind if you didn’t want a variety.
Where do you get scuppernongs?
We are blessed to have our own vines, but if you don’t have your own or a friendly neighbor that will share with you, you can find them at farmer’s markets and often at grocery stores like Wal Mart. Local wineries often will have the grapes as well.
How do you prepare the grape hulls?
After picking a variety of grapes, both purple and bronze, wash them thoroughly. I used about 6 pounds of grapes for my recipe. Pop the grape pulp and seeds into another bowl and save for juice. Frankly, this was the longest part of the preparation process. It took me about 20 minutes. Make sure you look for any seeds that you might have missed.
Cook the grapes in a pot with enough water to almost cover the tops. The amount will depend on size of your pot. You can always add more water if needed. Bring to a boil and cook on high for about 20 minutes stirring often. Foam will start to form at the top. Just keep folding it back into the hull mixture. You will start to smell the fragrance of the fruit quickly. It is heavenly. Then let the hulls cook about 5 more minutes on medium.
Once the grape hulls are cooked and soft, I took a potato masher and pressed on the hulls to get all the juice out before straining. Keep the juice for later. While straining, check again to make sure no seeds are in the hulls.
Can you eat the grape hulls as is or process them?
Note: At this stage you can decide whether to leave hulls as they are and then proceed with the recipe or puree them into a finer mixture. I grew up with my mother using the cooked hulls as they were. My grandchildren and son-in-law (he’s Australian so not sure he has acquired the deep south taste buds yet) found the texture of the hulls a little less desirable, so I adapted my mom’s recipe for them.
I put the scuppernong hulls in my food processer/blender and first chopped, then processed them until the hulls had more of a pudding-like texture. Next, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9 x 2 pan with cooking spray. Add pureed grape hulls to pan and spread evenly. This pan actually still has my mom’s personal name label on it from where she used it for church or family dinners.
Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon evenly over the top of the grape hull mixture (and add other spices if desired). The grape hull mixture is naturally sweet, but you can adjust the amount up or down depending on your “sweetness” preference. Our grapes are pretty sweet, and so we didn’t need or want much sugar. However, this would be a good time to test the mixture for sweetness and add sugar (we used 1/2 cup of white sugar) to your taste. You might need more sugar to get the desired sweet-to-tart ratio for your particular grapes.
Cover the mixture with ½ box of dry yellow cake mix. I used the Butter Recipe yellow cake mix. Make sure all of the grape mixture is covered. You can use the entire box but the layer will be thicker. Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter and pour over the cake mix distributing evenly. If you use the entire box of cake mix you might want extra butter so it isn’t too dry.
Cook in oven for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Top with 1 cup of roasted pecans. If you don’t have pecans, walnuts would be a good substitute. I toasted the pecans separately and then added to the top of the cake and put back in the oven the last 5 or 10 minutes of the baking time.
Top the cake off with Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream. I recently made this dump cake and took to a meeting. It was hot from the oven and served with the ice cream. It was eaten down to the last crumb!
If you are wondering what to do with the grape juice you have been saving, you can strain it one last time and put in a pitcher in the fridge. Enjoy it with breakfast or a snack. It is naturally sweet with no sugar added, and the vibrant purple color is beautiful as well.
Or better yet, make this Scuppernong Jelly! These two recipes pair together – the 6 pounds of scuppernongs you need for this cake will produce the right amount of juice for your jelly. If you plan to make both the jelly and cake, set aside the grapes’ pulp after popping it out of the grape hulls. Save the pulp for the jelly and use the hulls for the cake.
Other desserts we love
Grape Hull Cake (With Scuppernongs!)
- Food Processor or blender
- 6 lbs Scuppernongs
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
- 1/2 cup sugar (or more as desired)
- 1 box Butter Yellow Cake Mix Dry, 15.25 oz
- 1 stick butter unsalted, melted
- 1 cup pecans roasted and chopped
- Ice cream Vanilla (if desired)
- Cool Whip (if desired)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash grapes and pop out grape pulp/seeds and save in another bowl for juicing. Check to make sure no seeds in the hulls.
- Put grape hulls in pot with enough water to almost cover grapes. Amount will depend on size of pot. You can always add more water if needed.
- Bring to a boil and cook on high for 20 minutes stirring often. Foam will start to form at the top. Just keep folding it back into the hulls. Then for another 5 minutes turn to medium heat to finish cooking.
- Once grape hulls are soft, strain to remove any juice and keep for later. Check carefully to make sure no seeds slipped through.
- Put hulls in food processer/blender then chop and process until hulls have a more pudding-like texture.
- Spray a 9 x 9 x 2 pan with cooking spray.
- Add pureed grape hulls to pan and spread evenly.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon and white sugar over the grape hulls, distributing evenly. This is a good time to test for sweetness. If this isn't enough sugar, add until your desired sweetness level is achieved.
- Cover with ½ box of dry yellow cake mix. Make sure all of grape mixture is covered.
- Melt the unsalted butter and pour over the cake mix evenly.
- Cook in oven for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Top with the roasted pecans and serve hot with vanilla ice cream or Cool Whip.
Let me start by saying, that I mean no offense with a negative comment but honestly thought you and others may benefit from this feedback. I was really excited about this recipe, but to say that it didn’t turn out it is a big, honkin’ understatement. I am wondering if you left out the amount of sugar needed to make this palatable by accident?? It needs WAY more sugar/sweetener to cut through the bitter and acerbic nature of the hulls. I love the flavor of muscadine as a southern gal, but you really need that sugar to balance the flavor. I’m sincerely wondering if your leaving that out was a simple typo or if you have some sort of amazingly sweet-hulled cultivar of muscadine/scuppernong that your using….?
With the sweetness increased, (A LOT) and the addition of some nutmeg/cardamom , I’d give this recipe a 4. The toasted pecans were very nice with the muscadine flavor.
Allison, thanks for your comments. I am really sorry the pie didn’t turn out for you. I had actually not made the pie for years. I made it two times before the final posting of the recipe. I actually forgot to put any sugar in the first time, and it wasn’t very sweet at all. So I actually included 2 teaspoons of sugar the last time and it was just right for us. Everyone at the church meeting thought the sweet to tartness ratio was just right. I remember even asking them if they thought it was sweet enough and they all agreed they liked it as it was. Our grapes are even sweet enough not to need any sugar added to the grape juice for drinking. However, having said that, I will be more than happy to edit the recipe to encourage people to “up” the amount of sugar based on their personal preference, taste, and the natural sweetness of their grapes. I hope this will help you and others enjoy this delicious and unusual pie.
The pie or dump cake or by any other name is still one of the best recipes from the south that you will find. Having said that, one’s taste buds are very personal so if you need more sugar just add it or use Stevia, or another natural sugar. It is great like it is and the sugar doesnt overpower the taste of the grapes.
Thanks for letting me hear from you…so glad you enjoyed the pie. Good sugar suggestions as well.